Ready to gather the family and toast some marshmallows? Nothing’s better on a summer night. If you don’t already have one, making a fire pit is pretty easy! Just be sure to choose a safe location that won’t create a fire hazard and consult your local home center on the proper materials. Not all stones and bricks can take the heat. Get the details below.

 

#1 PICK A SPOT. Choose a spot with flat ground. Stay clear of low hanging tree branches, and at stay at least 10 feet from any flammable structures. Make note of locations for underground utility lines and sprinklers too.

 

#2 PLAN IT. Determine the diameter of your new fire pit. Start by picking a kit with all the necessary supplies, or if you plan to do it on your own then choose a fire pit ring to start from. Rings typically range from 36 to 44 inches in diameter. A galvanized steel ring will protect the stones from the flames, thus extending the life of your fire pit.

Next, buy the masonry supplies. If you’re not buying a kit, you’ll need retaining wall blocks with a rear lip, fire-safe construction adhesive, sand, and crushed stone. Check with an expert in your home store before purchasing supplies. Every single item must be rated for high heat usage. Buying the wrong supplies can be dangerous. Rocks, blocks, and bricks can contain trapped water or gas, potentially causing an explosion.

Links to example items you’ll need to build this fire pit are at the bottom of the article for your convenience!

 

#3 BUILD IT. Outline the area to match the size of your steel fire pit ring—not including the lip. Mark the center spot with a stake, tie twine onto it, and cut its length to half the diameter of your ring. Use paint to mark your circle as you walk the twine around in a circle.

Excavate out the area you just drew to about eight inches deep. Be sure that the area is level. Fill your circle with two inches of sand.

Begin laying the retaining wall blocks around the outside of your dug-out circle. Lay the first layer using your steel fire pit ring as a guide. Use a level to make sure the first layer is even. Use a rubber mallet to tap down blocks or add sand to raise as necessary.

As you work on the second layer, overlap joints of the layer below with each block placed. Use your steel fire ring to be sure you’re still at the correct diameter. Attach each block of the second tier to the first layer with construction adhesive. Repeat these steps until you have the desired height—usually four layers high with this design. *Note that some small gaps between blocks on a given layer are ok and will create air flow within the fire pit.

 

#4 FINISHING DETAILS. Top your sand off with about four inches of crushed stone. Place the fire ring into the opening. Check your adhesive instructions for cure time. Make sure it’s fully dried before using the fire pit.

We recommend having water or a fire extinguisher nearby at all times for safety. Also consider investing in a screened protector to keep yourself and others from sparks. A cover is optional, but will help to protect the fire pit during the off season. Enjoy your new fire pit!

 

ALTERNATE NOTES. If you’d prefer to build on a patio, mark your circle with chalk guided by your insert size. No digging required! In place of a fire pit ring, use a concave metal fire pit insert that sits above the sand and rock layers. Your concrete below needs insulation from the heat. Without this protective measure the surface of your patio will be harmed and could crack.

Build your block layers to fit the concave insert. Most come with a lid, which you may find easier to use for sizing. Test that the insert lip sits securely on the blocks of each layer before building more layers or applying adhesive. Follow all other above steps as listed.

 

Need help? We’ve got reliable masonry experts on our preferred vendor page {{ HERE }}

 

Links to example products.

Fire pit kit {{ HERE }}

Fire pit ring {{ HERE }}

Concave insert (for building on a patio) {{ HERE }}